I thought I would introduce you to the biggest influence my business has ever had, my dad, John Waldron. He was a very determined man, completely focussed on anything he would do and he had no time for charlatans or inauthenticity.
This is the Eulogy I wrote for his funeral. After he dies, on the 4th March 2020, the service took place at Agecroft Cremetorium.
Can I just say thank you to my sister Catherine and my wife Teresa for organising this. Before you clap, you’ve not tried the sandwiches yet.
Thank you for coming out today, to say goodbye to my dad, John Waldron; known as Chris, unless you’re a doctor.
For those who don’t know, my dad was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1930.
That means that the only thing in this chapel older than him… is the chapel.
He would have been 90 years old in June. I was half his age last year, and I think I’M grown up!
Family in Ireland
Dad had five siblings. There was Rita, Beattie, himself, Richard, Philomena and Terry. They grew up in a small house on a farm with his parents Kate and Jack, and maternal grandparents Richard and Maggie. It was a full house, and money was scarce. We’ve probably all heard stories of him walking 3 miles to school in his bare feet, opening and closing 12 gates, summer and winter.
His sister Rita was the eldest. She lives in Stretford. She’s not here, because she’s 92 now. Her eyes light up as she tells me of the fun they had together as kids, a double act, always getting into mischief. They weren’t allowed to sit together at dinner, in school or at church. Their mum Kate would promise them a penny if they behaved in church, they never got their penny.
Work, driving a cat grader and cracking on
After leaving school and starting work for a neighbouring farmer at 14 years old, this was 1944, he’d carry bales of hay up into the hills, in snow, well into the night. Anything to help provide for the family, a habit that he would take with him to the Royal Bolton Hospital where he died two weeks ago of an infection. Ever independent, he left £20 in his dressing gown, and this paid for his death certificate.
He was as strong as an ox my dad, both physically and mentally. That’s how I always saw him.
If something needed to be done, he wouldn’t talk about it, he’d roll up his sleeves and crack on. If you were anywhere near him, he’d tell you to get up and do something, grab it with both hands.
One night, the two of us took an engine out of the Vauxhall Viva you see on the back of the Order Of Service one night, not that he was any sort of mechanic, but if it needed doing, he’d find a way to get it done. The roof of the garage collapsed on us. We set about strengthening the roof joists, rigged up the engine and hoisted it out. I, his helper, was ten years old!
A new life in England
An ‘uneducated’ man, with little ‘schooling’ as he would say, and having no specific skill, fed up with scraps of work back home in Mayo, and dreams of plenty, he boarded a boat in 1953, aged 23. Not for the New World across the Atlantic like so many Irish earlier in the century, but for England; and Manchester.
The next 20 years, I don’t know that much about. Probably for good reason. So, I would welcome one of his friends to come to tell a tale. No doubt, the stories would begin in the pub.
John Waldron and Family
So, in the seventies, he lived in Salford and found his neighbour, widowed mother of four, Judy, Paul, Sandie and Robert, ‘needed’ a bit of male company. Next thing I knew, I was being born, and soon Catherine followed. Like me, in his footsteps, having two ‘stepchildren’ myself, I can’t imagine how many times he wondered what he’d gotten himself into. It’s not easy. But I dare say, he rolled his sleeves up and cracked on with it. He loved my mum, Dorothy Waldron.
I don’t know how Jack & Charlie, Tom & Amber, see my relationship with Teresa, but I always try to make sure that they see what I saw as a kid, a man that loves their mum.
I think I can safely speak for Catherine in saying that we had a great childhood. With parents that loved us and each other, took us to some fantastic, memorable places, even as far as Scot Land. It was only JUST over the border, and he was working on a motorway for one of the two weeks we were there. He drove dumper truck when he first came to England but for most of my life, before he retired, he drove a Caterpillar grader.
My dad had no inclination to go abroad, never even had a passport. I always understood why. Working your arse off, shift after shift, away from home all week, he just wanted to be with the people he loved at the weekend. Whether it be taking us kids to the stock car racing, an air show, McDonald’s (although he hated junk food with a passion) or taking my mum to The Fox in Crumpsall for a skin full.
A generous man
I had loads of friends when I was away at college, he’d always told me, ‘you’ll learn a lot from any man, no matter who he is or where he comes from’. From time to time, he’d ‘pop by’ on Saturday, on his way home from a job. My friends loved him. Why? He’d always slip me a twenty-pound note to buy the first round, there would be little change, and this was 25 years ago! Then he’d be at the bar getting them in more than anyone. He didn’t care that there were people there without a penny in their pocket.
He picked me up now and again after a club at 2 in the morning, although he needed his sleep for work.
On Sunday when it snowed, he’d spread grit on the steep road outside the house for the bus drivers before they started, then got back in bed.
The allotment - Waldron Farming routes
In his seventies, only just after retiring, he had an allotment in Stretford. He won ‘best allotment’ year after year, growing the biggest parsnips you would have ever seen. He did things correctly, dug deep and cared for his crops.
I believe he did the same with us all. For me, at least, he supported me always, guided me and made me strong.
The takeaway here is that life is precious. My friend and I have this mantra, climbing mountains, ‘It all moves, good luck.’ Times can get tough. These times will pass. We must ride the lightning, be human, push through, roll up our sleeves and crack on.
God bless you, dad.